By Mike Searson
Mike reviews the Ruger Redhawk Revolver 357 Magnum from Sturm, Ruger & Co.
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- I have always been a big fan of the Ruger Redhawk series.
It goes back to 1986 or 1987 when I saw a picture of the Ruger Super Redhawk in 44 Magnum with a stainless steel scope in a “Coming Soon” insert in one of the gun magazines of the day.
At 17 years of age, it was the first handgun I wanted to buy when I turned 21. Over the years that exact model eluded me, but I picked up Redhawks in 44 Magnum, 41 Magnum and eventually a Super Redhawk in 454 Casull.
So when Ruger announced an 8-shot 357 Magnum Redhawk, I had to take it for a spin.
The concept is nothing new, as other revolver manufacturers have been offering increased capacity revolvers in 357 Magnum for decades.
However, when Ruger builds a revolver, they build it to last forever. Their earlier incarnations of 6-shot Redhawks chambered in 357 Magnum are certified grail items for most Ruger collectors. We suspect few of those are shot because of their collectability, but this 8-shot holds a lot of promise.
Ruger Redhawk Revolver in 357 Magnum – The Good
When you open the cylinder for the first time, it looks glorious. It is almost reminiscent of a modern day LeMat cartridge revolver with those 8 chambers. It truly is impressive.
The cylinder is cut for Moon Clips which will please a lot of people and there is a healthy aftermarket for Ruger Redhawk holsters. So it’s not like there will be a huge wait on accessories for the Redhawk. The best part for the moon clip fans is that Ruger includes a few with the Redhawk 357 and you can order more from the Ruger store.
Due to the revolver’s heavy weight and massive size it comes across as an extremely soft-shooting pistol, even with 357 Magnum. The double action trigger is particularly nice; this is something we have noticed on every Redhawk we have fired. They may not have the lightest pull weight, but they are always smooth and consistent. Ours broke at 6 in single action and consistently at 12 in double action.
Stocks are an attractive hard wood grip with Ruger medallions inset. This style is common to most Redhawk revolvers.
Ruger Redhawk 357 Magnum – The Bad
Obviously, this is going to be a heavy piece to haul around all day.
Our first shooting session was less than remarkable with our rounds striking 4 to 5 inches to low on our target. We blamed the ammunition at first, which were some Remington 158 Grain FMC 38 Specials we had that were collecting dust.
Then we checked the adjustable rear sight and saw it was cranked all the way down from the factory. We have heard that this is a common issue with fresh from the factory revolvers. So if you try one out, check where that rear sight is positioned beforehand so you do not waste ammunition.
After properly adjusting the sights we resumed with our test. Groups ran from 1.75” with 38 Mid-range wad-cutters to a bit over 2” with 180 grain JHPs we loaded up.
The short barrel makes for a more compact revolver in spite of the weight and massive frame size, but a few more inches of barrel length might have more appeal to shooters who want a little more velocity from their 357 Magnums. Maybe we will see this down the road.
Ruger Redhawk Revolver 357 Magnum – The Reality
While the 8-shot 357 Magnum Redhawk could make for a concealed carry piece with the right wardrobe holster, etc. we feel this is more of a home defense “nightstand” gun or maybe a good sidearm for hunting and fishing if you can tolerate the weight.
We found that it carried well in a Kenai Gunfighters Inc. chest rig. This is actually a very versatile holster that positions the revolver mid torso and works well if you are on a horse, ATV or other situation (like wearing extreme cold weather clothing) where it may not be easy to retrieve a sidearm from your hip. Our model is intended for the Super Redhawk, but we have been able to fit Redhawks, S&W X-Frames, S&W N-Frames and the like with no problems at all.
As to the overall concept; the two extra rounds are nice things to have, but for the size we would prefer a 6-shot 44 Magnum or 5-shot 454 Casull. Yet we recognize that some folks cannot handle those types of rounds and that 357 Magnum may be the limit of their recoil threshold.
We are not disparaging the performance of the 357 Magnum at all. Rather we are trying to make a case for 8 rounds of 357 vs. 6 rounds of 41/44 Magnum in a wilderness situation. It might work well as a defensive sidearm in the lower 48 vs. mountain lion or black bear.
It could work well as a training aid to get newer shooters up to par on shooting heavy handgun revolver loads.
Despite its large size, it is an extremely well built handgun that should last several lifetimes.
After adjusting the sight, we found it to be a very accurate wheel gun, although the heavy weight may dissuade some folks from wanting to shoot it all day in favor of a Ruger GP-100 in 357 Magnum instead.
Ruger collectors and fans of the Redhawk line will have an interest in the Ruger Redhawk Revolver 357 Magnum, too.
About Mike Searson
Mike Searson’s career as a shooter began as a Marine Rifleman at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire adult life as a Gunsmith, Ballistician, Consultant, Salesman, Author and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1989.
Mike has written over 2000 articles for a number of magazines, websites and newsletters including Blade, RECOIL, OFF-GRID, Tactical Officer, SWAT, Tactical World, Gun Digest, Examiner.com and the US Concealed Carry Association as well as AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.
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